What are Phonological Disorders?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2018
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Phonological disorders, sometimes called articulation disorders, involve abnormal speech development. These are usually noted by comparing the speech of one child to that of others who are his or her age. It has been found that boys more commonly suffer from these conditions than do girls.

Generally, phonological disorders refer to conditions that are experienced by children. The problems are noted when a child’s speech development is not on a level that is considered normal at his or her age. Considering age when diagnosing such problems generally is essential. This is because speech difficulties that signal a problem at one age may be perfectly normal at a younger age.

There are other things that need to be considered when diagnosing phonological disorders. Hearing is a prime example. A child who does not hear properly can have greater difficulty speaking properly. Whether a child experiences difficulty in all of the languages that he or she speaks also needs to be considered. Sometimes speech problems are a result of poor abilities in a certain language with which a child is not as familiar.

When there are actual problems, phonological disorders can greatly range in severity. Some children may only have difficulty producing a certain group of sounds. Others may have speech that is generally poor or that may be incomprehensible.


There are several things that are believed to possibly cause phonological disorders. The problem can be structural. This means that perhaps some part of the child’s body, such as the tongue or lip, may be deformed. It is also speculated that in some instances the problems stem from factors related to the child’s environment.

Phonological disorders often can be successfully corrected. Speech therapy is one of the primary methods used to accomplish this. In many cases, this type of treatment is offered free by schools. When the cause of the disorder is structural, however, speech therapy alone may not be sufficient.

Untreated phonological disorders can affect more than how a person talks. Such disorders can also create social problems for children. It has also been found that if the problems are not dealt with, many children will academically suffer. They may not develop satisfactory reading or spelling skills.

Children with phonological disorders should also be assessed for other problems. It is common for children with these conditions to also stutter, to have poor syntax, and to have an immature vocabulary. If these are discovered early, it may be possible that all of the problems can be addressed at once.



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